Tarrant County Bail Bond Specialists

Can You Go to Jail if You Don\’t Pay Child Support?


If you are the parent of a minor child that does not live with you the majority of the time, you are considered a non-custodial parent and must pay child support in Texas. Since child support is a court order in Texas, you can face some serious consequences if you fail to pay. Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay the amount ordered by the court. Here’s what you need to know about the child support system in Texas and how a bail bonds agent can help you.

When Is Child Support Ordered?

A divorce or paternity action is often the cause for a child support order. If the parents of the minor child are married but decide to separate or divorce, the parents and the court must decide where the child will spend most of their time and who will pay the child support. If the parents were never married, paternity must be established before there can be a child support order. Paternity can be established in Texas when both parents sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) or by obtaining a court Order of Paternity.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

The net income of the payee and child support guidelines are compared to determine the amount of child support. The payee must consistently pay a percentage of their net income with the percentage determined by the number of children on the child support order. This is the standard method of calculating child support amount; however, a judge can deviate from the guidelines with good cause under unusual circumstances.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

There are serious child support penalties in the State of Texas when payments fail to be paid. Although there are unforeseen circumstances and challenges that may cause you to fail child support, doing so is a violation of a court order. If your payment is late, the judge will consider you in contempt of court and order a warrant for your arrest. It may seem harsh; however, Texas lawmakers strive to ensure parents who are obligated to pay these costs uphold their obligations. If the case is sent to the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, the order can be forced by using the following methods:

  • Require the employer of the payee to withhold their wage in efforts to deduct court-ordered child support;
  • Intercept federal income tax refund checks, lottery winnings, or other income that could be due from federal or state sources;
  • Suspending licenses like driving, professional, or hunting and fishing; and
  • Filing liens against the non-custodial parent’s property or other assets.

Aside from these methods of gaining access to money to pay child support, you can also get jail time. This is one aspect many neglect to realize. Depending on the amount owed for child support, and the number of violations, the consequences can result in a misdemeanor or a sixth-degree felony.

How Can I Avoid Going to Jail if I Am Struggling to Keep Up with Payments?

Getting proactive is the best way to avoid getting into trouble with the court if you realize a child support payment is coming up and you cannot afford it. First, contact the other parent of your child and find out if you can work something out with them so you can catch up on payments at a future date. Even if there is not a good relationship between you and the other parent of your child, if you go to jail, they will not receive child support from you. Remaining in the community is mutually beneficial, so consider this when you speak with them. If you have always paid on time, it is likely you can work together to resolve this rare situation.

However, if there is no arrangement that can be made, and they are unwilling to help you, you should contact the court to see if you can work something out with the judge handling your case. The court also does not want you to go to jail, because it means they will become responsible for caring for your children. If this is the first time you are having difficulty making the child support payments, getting proactive and asking for help is the best way to avoid the situation from getting worse.

How Long Can Someone Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

Failing to pay child support can be considered a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the amount owed and the number of violations. If your case is considered a misdemeanor, you must pay a fine of up to $2,500, and spend six months in a county jail or county workhouse. If you are charged with a felony, you can spend as much as 18 months in jail. In this case you will likely be sent to a state facility. The punishments may sound overly severe, but the consequences are put in place to ensure child support is paid.

How a Bail Bondsman Can Help?

It’s clear that the consequences for failing to pay child support are severe, and you may feel they are unreasonable. However, this is the way it works in Texas, and you will need to obey the orders of the court. If you have found yourself with an arrest warrant or have been arrested for failing to pay child support, the first thing you should do is contact a bail bondsman. They can help you post bail to get out of jail and help you get your life back to normal. For help in Texas, give PCS Bail Bonds a call. We provide 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges including theft, drug possession, embezzlement, assault, and more.

We have professional memberships in several renowned associations including the Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Tarrant County Bar Association, and Professional Bondsmen of Tarrant County. We serve clients in all Tarrant County cities including Arlington, Bedford, Crowley, Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Everman, Forest Hill, Lakeside, Pelican Bay, River Oaks, Trophy Club, Westworth Village, and more. We process our clients’ requests quickly and efficiently. Our bond agents are always on call and we can be down to the jail in under 30 minutes.

Contact us now by phone at 817-335-1655, at our e-mail, visit in-person, or fill out our bail bond request form. You can be confident that you’re working with experts who are dedicated to helping you.

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